DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Kon-Tiki, Blu-ray (2012-13)

A top-notch adventure with exemplary video and audio.

Published on September 11, 2013

Kon-Tiki, Blu-ray (2012-13)

Cast: Pål Sverre Hagan, Anders Baasmo Christiansen
Directors: Joachim Rönning, Espen Sandberg
Studio: Nordisk Film Production/ The Weinstein Company /Anchor Bay  [8/27/13]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD Color
Audio: Norwegian or English DTS HD-MA 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Length: 96 minutes (English Version)
Rating: ****

What a great ride this film is! Kon-Tiki is the Academy Award-nominated re-telling of the 1947 voyage of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Heyerdahl set out to prove his theory that South Americans were the first to settle the Polynesian Islands. After being rebuked by The National Geographic Society and others, he found some funds and built a raft of balsa wood that he though closely approximated the way he claimed the South Americans did it 1500 years ago.

It’s a compelling story, well told, and the video on the Blu-ray release is breathtaking, the best I’ve seen this year. The DTS HD-MA 5.1 channel sound is also exemplary, with clear dialog and naturalistic surround that is not bloated or distracting. It’s an ideal mix.

Kon-Tiki is not perfect. Characterizations are pretty light. I wanted to learn more about the motivations of Heyerdahl and his crew. And I didn’t see a lot of sun damage to the actors, despite a story chronicling 100 days at sea in the blistering sun. As an adventure, the film is first rate. The digital effects, and there are many, never call attention to themselves. Things look real, not ones and zeroes that came out of a computer. The disc includes a feature on the digital effects, and it was surprising how many scenes that appeared to be just normal cinematography turned out to be anything but.

Pål Sverre Hagan as Heyerdahl is very good in the lead demanding role. Heyerdahl shot a documentary on the real 1947 voyage, and it went on to win an Oscar. In this new film we see Heyerdahl with his camera, and if you look at the old documentary (available on YouTube) you can see how closely the 2 films match.

The Blu-ray disc actually contains two versions of the film. The original cut made in Norwegian, and the American release, which is shorter, but was filmed with all the actors speaking English.

Although the film says it is ‘based on the incredible true story’ there are some liberties taken with the actual journey, adding some scenes that are there for tension and excitement.  Still, Kon-Tiki is a terrific film, the perfect blend of high adventure, demonstration quality video and audio. Extras include a making of feature with Matt Lauer (inexplicably) and an excellent look at the effects.

Kon-Tiki is definitely worth seeing, and the better your AV system the more thrilled you will be with this release.

—Mel Martin




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